GILONSKE, WALTER WALLACE, Staff Sergeant, # 12014751, USAAF

 

Walter W. Gilonske was born on 7 June 1920 in New York, New York, to Walter Gilonske (1884-1957) (Poland) and Adele (Modzelewski) Gilonske (1888-1967) (Poland). Siblings included Frank Victor Gilonske (1918-1994), Jane Anna Gilonske (1923-    ), John Gilonske (1924-    ), and Pauline (Gilonske) Okraszewski (1927-    ). He was married to Dorothy Mildred (Parsons) Gilonske (1921- ).

 

He enlisted in the USAAF in New York, New York, on 17 February 1940. He was trained in the maintenance and operation of the .50 caliber aerial machineguns on the B-29 Superfortress. On a combat mission before 20 August, he was wounded by enemy fire. It is believed he was the senior gunner located in central fire control, the mid-fuselage compartment of the B-29. On 20 August 1944, a B-29, # 42-6330, “Fickle Finger of Fate” assigned to 20th Air Force, 444th Bomb Group, 676th Bomb Squadron (Very Heavy), departed Kwanghan, China, for a bombing mission against the target of the iron works in Yawata, Japan. The B-29 crashed into a cliff near its base in China after the mission and eleven of the crew was killed except for one survivor, SSgt. Belford. The unit earned the Distinguished Unit Citation (ribbon) for the Yawata raid. After recovery from China, his remains were buried in the Saint Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Grasmere, New York. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart (2nd award).

LANHAM, HAROLD DOUGLAS, Staff Sergeant, # 18217663, USAAF

 

Harold D. Lanham was born on 26 July 1924 in Fort Worth, Tarrant Co., Texas, to Floyd Russell Lanham (1896-1967) and Nettie Rose (Stephens) Lanham (1899-1969). Siblings includedLois Ruth Lanham (1920-1978) and Floyd Paul Lanham (1922-1991).

 

After enlisting, he was trained in the maintenance and operation of the .50 caliber machine guns on the B-29 Superfortress. It is believed he was a waist gunner on this last flight. On 20 August 1944, a B-29, # 42-6330, “Fickle Finger of Fate” assigned to 20th Air Force, 444th Bomb Group, 676th Bomb Squadron (Very Heavy), departed Kwanghan, China, for a bombing mission against the target of the iron works in Yawata, Japan. The B-29 crashed into a cliff near its base in China after the mission and eleven of the crew was killed except for one survivor, SSgt. Belford. The unit earned the Distinguished Unit Citation (ribbon) for the Yawata raid. His remains were recovered and buried in the Laurel Land Cemetery, Fort Worth, Texas. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.

Walter W. & Dorothy Gilonske